How paternity leave benefits mothers, even financially
In 2020 Pakistan signed into law the Maternity and Paternity Leave Act, 2020 giving parents time to be with their new born children with the security of knowing work will not only pay them but be waiting for them to return to.
The act ensures a number of things including, mothers are entitled to take fully paid maternity leave up to 180 days for the birth of the first child, 120 days for the second, and 90 days for the third. For fathers they are entitled to take up to 30 days of fully paid paternity leave for the first three separate births. For both, unpaid leave can happen for their fourth children and beyond.
Parental leave is time off of work guaranteed to employees by their employers which now the government made clear was a non-negotiable through the act. In fact if employers, private or public, do not comply they can face up to 6 months of imprisonment or a PKR 100,000 fine.
Paternity and maternity leave are essential not only for a new mother’s recovery or for parent-child bonding, it has also been linked to an increase of gender equity at home and at the workplace.
Parents being hands on at the same time with their child, means both parents are playing a role in the child’s care. In a patriarchal culture like that in Pakistan, the role of caregiver often almost entirely falls on the mother, with little to no help from the father. This is a rare and crucial opportunity for a working father to be hands on and tuned in with their child. When fathers take paternity leave at work it sets a precedent that it should increasingly be the norm and that it is not only women who leave work to start or expand their families.
However, in many countries, maternity and paternity leave are still hotly debated about whether an employer should provide it or not. Only 90 out of 187 countries enforce paternity leave of any kind. But paid parental leave for fathers, as well as for mothers, provides a real advantage to working families.
Without parental leave, new parents are at risk of loss of income, loss of savings, and in some harsh cases even loss of employment. For mothers this risk is increased and even more variables at play. Mother’s face more discrimination in hiring practices, as well as getting promoted at work. Ironically, fathers are more likely to be promoted because of needing to take care of family.
For women who have given birth and take maternity leave there are causes of concern like
Will she be able to go back to work or will work even be waiting for her?
When fathers are not able to take paid time off or afford taking unpaid time off, it means that mothers may be less likely to rejoin work when they want to, or ever. This trickles down into impacting a woman’s growth in her career. Paternity leave in this sense plays a role in keeping working mothers working and addressing the wage gap.
In families where mothers working are important to the financial health of the family, being able to increase their wages through career growth, promotions, or job changes by continuing to work benefit the family’s over-all financial health. But this means she has to go back to work.
When you are hired it is vital to know their policies when it comes to parental leave. It would also be beneficial for both men and women to get an understanding of how parents at the company felt they were treat before, during and after taking parental leave. For a young and growing family’s financial future, making sure to work for places with paternity and maternity leave perks, even those beyond what is guaranteed by law, can be an important first financial stepping stone as a family.